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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

After shooting, Nurse wants to talk tighter gun control



ST. PETERSBURG -- In the aftermath of the shooting that left two St. Petersburg police officers dead on Monday, most City Council members are repeating that this is not the time for second-guessing tactics, procedures and policies.

"It's time to mourn now," said Council Chair Jim Kennedy. "We will have time to evaluate later."

But one council member, Karl Nurse, says now would be a good time to start discussing what to do about all the guns being used in a spate of high-profile shootings lately.

"It's remarkable that our system is so dysfunctional that we can't have a discussion about limiting the access that criminals and the mentally ill have to guns," Nurse said.

He e-mailed the Times a press release (which can be found at by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition that includes 550 mayors that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg founded to strengthen federal gun control laws.

The release points out that the Columbine killers used guns bought at a gun show from an unlicensed seller; the Virginia Tech shooter got a gun he wouldn't have gotten if his records had been reported to the FBI's gun background check system; and the shooter in Tucson got a gun because of lax federal regulations.

The group, which lists Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio as a coalition member, seeks a list of those prohibited from buying guns and a new requirement that every gun sale be accompanied by a background check, including those at gun shows.

"While I realize that anytime someone mentions 'gun-control' people freak out, it seems very clear that closing the gun show loophole and getting the names of the felons and mentally ill on the may-not-purchase list is a desperate need," Nurse said.

He said he sent St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, who is not a member of the coalition, the list and discussed it with him.

"I got what I would call a moderately positive response," Nurse said. "He agreed with the content, like closing the gunshow loophole. But I didn't get a commitment from him that he would sign on or not."

-- Michael Van Sickler, Times Staff Writer


[Last modified: Thursday, January 27, 2011 1:56pm]


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